About 15 former ministers in the expired Goodluck Jonathan presidency are probably still living in denial, unwilling to accept the reality of change and their changed circumstances as powerful people of yesterday.
A report quoted a Muhammadu Buhari presidency source as saying: “Some of the ex-ministers are yet to return their official vehicles, especially the Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs), which they were using. It is amazing that some of them are still using pilot vehicles for passage. While some of them claimed they are still entitled to such perks for about three months after leaving office, a negligible few handed over their vehicles before May 29.”
The source also said: “Some of them said they had not fully disengaged because they had outstanding eight months’ salaries, allowances, claims and severance package to collect from the government. We have about 15 of them who have not fully complied with the directive to hand over their official vehicles.”
Apart from those who thought they needed to hold on to official vehicles because they were allegedly owed by the government, there is another set with another thought. According to the quoted source, “Some former ministers assumed that they were entitled to some of these vehicles because of the monetisation policy of the government. They said they were awaiting official clarification on the matter.”
The reasons given for the anomaly fly in the face of information that the government has had to write those concerned. The source said: “The government has no choice but to write the affected ex-ministers.” According to the September 21 report: “It was learnt that the memo has started having effect. Some ministers last Thursday returned some vehicles.”
It can be imagined that the ex-ministers involved may be interested in keeping the official vehicles as keepsakes of sorts. To them, the vehicles must be reminders of a time when power was sweet and intoxicating. To them, not having the vehicles around may be a reinforcing sign of their fall from glory. To them, having the vehicles as souvenirs would serve to massage their dented egos.
However, these former ministers probably need to be told some home truths, although they may not be ready to hear home truths. The official vehicles are what they are said to be, and not personal possessions. Obviously, keeping the vehicles in personal spaces for personal purposes cannot restore the lost status of the ex-ministers.
Holding on to the official vehicles when they are no longer in power suggests that they are clinging to a fantasy. They must get used to their powerlessness, and live with it without the vehicles that symbolise power.